OK, let’s unpack the glaring problem with the Rocketeer sequel.

And it’s worrisome.

The new take keeps the story in a period setting and offers a fresh view on the characters. Set six years after the original Rocketeer and after Secord has vanished while fighting the Nazis, an unlikely new hero emerges: a young African–American female pilot, who takes up the mantle of Rocketeer in an attempt to stop an ambitious and corrupt rocket scientist from stealing jet-pack technology in what could prove to be a turning point in the Cold War.

OK. STOP. The Rocketeer was set in 1938. Everybody* knows this – or at least knows that it was set prior to 1939, which marked the start of serious government disapproval of Nazis (foreign or domestic) operating on US soil. [Six***] years after 1938 is, let’s count: 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944.  1944. A year that was distinctly not part of the Cold War. We were still pretending that Stalin wasn’t a monster in human form at that part, because between him and us we were killing Nazis in bulk and everybody except the Axis wanted that to continue.  So clearly this needs to be [sixteen] years later. In 1954 McCarthyism has been hacked back, the military is beginning to be integrated, the Civil Rights movement is starting, Stalin has been dead for a year**… it’s a better time for a start of the Cold War movie.

Swear to God, everybody in Hollywood needs to requalify for their GEDs.

Moe Lane

PS: What’s that?  No, I don’t care if the new Rocketeer is a black woman, as long as she can act and fills out the costume nicely. And if they remember why the first one was so much fun.

*For a given value of ‘everybody,’ sure.  But that includes ‘everybody who is ready to go see a Rocketeer sequel.’

**You could even set it a year earlier and make the Rocketeer the cause of death for Josef Stalin.  I mean, shoot, it’s not like we don’t half-suspect the Commies of lying about how Stalin died anyway.

***Never fails: you mock people’s inability to do math, and then you make your own math errors in the text.  My point stands, however.  Also: well done to Aetius451AD for catching the howler.

9 thoughts on “OK, let’s unpack the glaring problem with the Rocketeer sequel.”

  1. Ok, annoying editing things: The article says six. You say eight and then count six years after 1938 to get 1944.

    Also 18 years after 1938 would be 1956, not 1954.

    *End of annoying editing.*

  2. A fun, interesting, alternate history movie in which WWII never occurred? And the Cold War is between other nations, not just US vs USSR? Throw in a little dieselpunk, a little steampunk, assume the atomic age hasn’t happened or the first atomic bomb is what the various people are fighting over?

    On the other hand, if I had to bet, I’d bet we’re more likely to end up with a dark and gritty movie, with a very important message.

  3. Ok, as far as the movie itself:

    1) No Jennifer Connolly? That could be a problem for me.

    2) This COULD work well. You could have the lady being a pilot, fighting both cultural norms for both her race and gender. As long as this is not THE centerpiece of the movie and she can act and do well with the character, I am fine with it.

    3) Since Secord is missing, they could have a plot line where this young barnstorming pilot somehow catches the attention of Howard Hughes and he brings her in on an updated version of the rocket pack test. She finds out about Secord, is drafted by the US military to rescue him and others held by the Nazis, wackiness ensues. Could have a good escape movie vibe.

    4) From what I can tell this is 1944, which means the enemy will be the Nazis. This may be a very tired device, but it is at least one enemy that everyone can hate without getting lost in the weeds. Plus, if the lead character is black, it adds in the particular Nazi attitudes on race, which adds another dynamic to the story.

    5) The Rocketeer was a lot of fun because of the period. A lot of people like that period for various reasons. Disney needs to make sure they do not decide to kick the teeth in of the fans of the original movie when they make this.

    I think this could be done very very well and entertainingly. It could also be a train wreck depending on how they handle it. Still Disney has had a steady hand in the past, so they are given a certain amount of rope.

    1. Everybody knows that Nazis make the best villains. Sure, Commies are evil and all, but they’re so dreary, with their “dialectical materialism” this and “historical imperative” that. And their dog-puke-brown uniforms. Nazis, on the other hand, just say, “Yeah, we’re evil. And very German. And we dress way cool.”

      1. One of my favorite Cryptonomicon quotes:

        “This is the moment, then. Nazis are right over there and it is the job of Bobby Shaftoe, and to a lesser degree Enoch Root, to kill them all. Not just a job but a moral requisite, because they are the living avatars of Satan, who publicly acknowledge being just as bad and vicious as they really are. It is a world, and a situation, to which Shaftoe and a lot of other people are perfectly adapted.”

  4. The very fact that they chose a black woman to play the role is a very strong argument that they do not even understand why the first one was so much fun.

  5. I find it unlikely that it would be possible for a black woman in the 1940’s to be the Rocketeer. If your story calls for that, then fine…but then perhaps it should be set in, oh, maybe the 1960’s at the absolute earliest.
    And if you can’t find a realistic way to set a Rocketeer sequel in the 1960’s, but still want to do a change, how about making a *white* woman the Rocketeer?
    And if you still insist on having both, then I can’t help but question the reason for the change. Because I doubt it’s story-driven.

  6. Best case: the movie has a strong dose of whiz-bang engineering/futurism optimism, and there’s a strong story driven reason why this particular person is the new Rocketeer. She’s the only one who didn’t give up on him after the big accident 5 years ago. She’s the daughter of his murdered friend, and wants the suit for revenge. He and his wife tried to have kids, but were infertile, and just when he was the most depressed, he met this kid who was hella smart, and getting bullied/beaten up/raped. Something.

    Worst case: the movie makers keep nothing from the old movie except the name and probably the suit. Like, say, Jem and The Holograms.

    Middle case: it’s a new movie for a new century. About as positive as any other Disney Princess movie, with the added benefit of being STEM positive! AKA Tomorrowland, with a bit of extra buzz due to the casting of the lead.

    I might see it in the best case. I’m not going to be the farm that that is what happens though.

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